Lunedì, 15 Ottobre 2018

Afghan delegation in Rome as Taliban raise flag in Qatar


(By Shelly Kittleson) Rome, June 20 - In meeting with
Italian members of parliament this week, representatives of
Afghan civil society asked that the country not be 'abandoned'.
The head of the Kabul juvenile court and the current
director of a prestigious Afghan research centre discussed the
challenges faced by the country and stressed the fragility of
the progress achieved over the past 12 years in meeting with
about 20 members of parliament on Tuesday.
Judge Homa Alizoy, also a member of the Afghan Women's
Network, and former MP and current Afghanistan Research and
Evaluation Unit (AREU) director Mir Ahmad Joyenda discussed the
vast changes brought to the condition of women, education and
media in the country.
Alizoy, who visited Italy before as part of justice sector
training - Italy was tasked with coordinating Afghan justice
sector reform at the 2002 Tokyo conference and has remained
active in this field in the country - noted the continuing
challenges to women's rights in the country.
However, in speaking to ANSA, she stressed that during the
years of the Taliban she was not even allowed to work outside of
her house, much less as top judge in a Kabul court.
The warning of what stands to be lost gained poignancy
after the Taliban opened a political office in Qatar on Tuesday,
during which the fundamentalist group cut a celebratory ribbon
and raised the well-known flag of the insurgency above a
nameplate that reads 'The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan'.
Only after intervention by US Secretary of State John Kerry
were both the flag and the nameplate removed late Wednesday
The US was forced to get involved after Afghan President
Hamid Karzai balked at what seemed to be tantamount to the
setting up of a parallel embassy to that of the Afghan
government, and made it known that talks on a new Afghan-US
security agreement which would allow some American troops to
stay in the country after the international combat mission comes
to an end would be suspended as a result.
Also on Tuesday, a ceremonial handover of security
leadership to Afghan national forces was held to mark the
beginning of the final phase of the transition, which culminates
in December 2014.
Joyenda and the head of Italy's Afghan network, Emanuele
Giordana, met with Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Vice
President Paolo Corsini on Wednesday.
During the discussion, the AREU director made the
network's request for the Italian government to continue
supporting the creation of a House of Civil Society in Kabul as
''a sort of insurance'' against all the efforts of the past 12
years going to waste.
It was also noted that Afghanistan continues to lobby for
30% of what Italy will save on military expenditure to be
rerouted to civilian initiatives post-2014.
Italy currently has some 3,000 troops on the ground -
mostly in the western part of the country near the border with
Iran - and plans to keep them there through 2014 and the Afghan
presidential elections scheduled that year.
Afterwards, however, to what extent government funding and
support will continue for civilian development in Afghanistan
remains uncertain.
Corsini noted that while he had been present at ''heated
debate'' among MPs whenever the issue of the Italian military
presence in Afghanistan was brought up - with some calling for
troops to be brought home immediately - backing within the
Parliament for continuing civilian support even after the
withdrawal had instead always been ''unanimous''.
He also said that he had long held that ''any peace
process should not damage (Afghan) society's ability to
develop'', which the delegates feel is what talking to the
Taliban while they continue to carry out attacks may be doing.
And, in any case, Joyenda said, ''the elected Afghan government
cannot be sidelined during the process''.
The Italian senator assured the delegates, however, that
Italian government support for Afghanistan would be
''steadfast'' and ''lasting''.
Many Afghans have voiced concerns that justice may be
sacrificed in the name of 'peace' in this period.
Joyenda stressed that the peace process as it stands is
bypassing the elected Afghan government and dealing with an
insurgent group that, ''according to the latest survey, only 7%
of the Afghan population support''.
He also warned of growing regional dangers from not only
Pakistan, which closed ''20,000 madrasas, mostly from the FATA
area, to send their students to plant IEDs and carry out attacks
in Afghanistan'', but also Iran.
Despite the relief with which the recent election of
'moderate' Hassan Rouhani in Iran has met with internationally,
Joyenda noted that the ''president is one thing and the Pasdaran
quite another''.
The reference to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was to
draw a similar comparison with the elected government in
Pakistan and the alleged independent involvement of the latter
country's secret services body, the ISI, in training and
recruiting insurgents.
Reports of an Iranian-funded media network in Afghanistan
existing solely to ''push the Iranian agenda'' worry a number of
Afghans, and the much publicized Shia Personal Status law of
2011 - heavily contested by women's rights activists and which
legalises what has been termed 'spousal rape'- was written by an
Iranian trained cleric.
Meanwhile, more recently the Taliban sent a high-level
delegation to Iran, presenting the visit as ''a meeting between
two governments''.
The delegates went on to note that until the composition
of the High Peace Council is changed, no tangible results could
be expected of it.
Set up to act as a mediator in the peace process but
''impartial and unrepresentative'', as it is made up mostly of
mujahedeen leaders who fought against the Taliban, the AREU
director asked the Italian government to put pressure on its
Afghan counterpart so that it instead include civil society
representatives and those who have not been engaged in previous

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